When Microsoft entered the console race in the sixth generation, they did better than people had ever expected. Oh sure, they didn’t beat the PS2 and their popularity in Japan was non existent, but the console still sold an ‘okay’ 24 million units and beat out the Gamecube.
However, it seems 24 million units wasn’t the level of sales Microsoft had hoped for. Oh no, they had far greater ambitions for their entry into the console race.
How much greater?
Well, let’s say it like this. They thought the original Xbox could somehow sell 200 million units.
No, we’re not making that up. This is a real quote about the ambitions for the system straight from Xbox head Phil Spencer:
The goal that the team had was to figure out how could we sell 200 million game consoles,” he said. “We’ve never seen a console sell that many units. The biggest individual console, the PS2, did 120 million or something like that. The approach the team took was people are moving to OTT Video Services [over-the-top, like Netflix and Stan] and television’s getting disrupted — and if we could build a console that could be at the center of this transition and really embrace not only people playing video games, but also people with the changing habits in television, you really take the console market and the gaming market and you expand it potentially.
And surprisingly enough, they did kind of have a point here. Remember, the PS2 (the best selling console in history and ‘winner’ of that generation) did indeed become popular as a bit of a multimedia machine, with the ability to play CDs and DVDs helping significantly. So the idea of an all in one solution could work. It’s what carried Sony to victory.
But their ambitions were still far just a little too high. After all, even the PS2 was about 50 million units short of the 200 million mark. And neither the Wii or PS1 came anywhere near close to that figure. The market just wasn’t there to support such sales. It’d be like, 60% of the US population all deciding to buy one video game system. Or four times more people than live in the UK buying said system.
Still, it wasn’t a complete washout. The Xbox brand has done fairly well over the last few generations or so, and the Xbox 360’s 84 million sales were at least something like what the company was initially expecting here. And they did outsold Nintendo’s Gamecube, which was probably a plus for them.
So what do you think? Was Microsoft right to assume the original Xbox could sell 200 million units? And for that matter, do you think we’ll ever see a console hit that mark? Post your thoughts on the subject here or on social media today!